Governor’s Ascension Defended

The cabinet of Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara defended his promotion in a Saturday statement, arguing he was of­fered the post based on merit.

“He is perhaps the most competent chief administrator this city has been led by for a long time,” the statement asserted.

The appointment last week of Chea Sophara, a CPP central committee member, surprised some politicians and commentators because the governor slot had been allocated to Funcinpec when the coalition government was formed last year.

“It is the competence and character of the appointee” that made the appointment possible, according to the statement.

The cabinet release also criticized the English-language Phnom Penh Post, singling out a page one article published Friday that cited unidentified “Funcin­pec members” as saying $3.5 million was paid to party President Prince Norodom Ranariddh for the position.

“The article…goes well beyond what can be considered objective reporting” and “is totally inaccurate and contains several completely false statements,” read the cabinet statement.

Chea Sophara had served as the capital’s first deputy governor since 1995, but has managed city affairs since July 1997’s factional fighting.

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